Hospital’s program expands to help domestic violence victims

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Victims of domestic violence have a new resource in the Upstate. It’s a program that was originally designed for sexual assault victims.

7News spoke to professionals at Spartanburg Medical Center to find out what this means for our community.

“We see between 200 and 250 patients a year, here at the main campus of Spartanburg Medical Center,” Jennifer Combs said.

When it comes to sexual assault, Nurse Examiner Jennifer Combs told 7 News the hospital’s main campus sees more than its fair share of victims. And they always encourage victims to come forward.

“It’s extremely important that victims of sexual assault seek medical treatment, not only for DNA evidence collection, but also for treatment of any STD’s they could’ve gotten,” Combs said. “We photograph any physical injuries they have.”

But Combs said these aren’t the only victims that need help. In fact, they see more folks who are victims of domestic violence.

“For the past few years, we’ve been seeing domestic violence patients as we can, but we just haven’t had the staff to provide 24/7 coverage,” Combs said.

However, thanks to a grant from the Department of Crime Victims’ Compensation, that’s changing.

“Allowed us to hire two additional full-time forensic nurses,” Combs said. “We will also be covering all of the hospital system. So we will respond to Cherokee, Union, the Mary Black campus, here, and Pelham.”

And the help doesn’t stop at the hospital. The nurse examiners refer victims to community resources, like the Safe Homes-Rape Crisis Coalition, which serves as a support system for victims of both domestic violence and sexual assault.

“We care about our community and the folks in it,” Victim Services Director at Safe Homes-Rape Crisis Coalition, Marlene Evans, said. “We want them safe. We want them healthy. And we hope to help break that cycle of violence.”

Marlene Evans told 7News the agency works closely with the hospital system, offering therapy sessions for patients, and even helping them find shelter if needed.

After seeing first-hand how prevalent sexual assault, and domestic violence, is in the community, Evans told 7News she’s excited to hear the program in the hospital system is expanding, saying it’s exactly what was needed.

“We’re hoping that now that there are skilled nurses in each center, they will feel more comfortable about presenting,” she said. “Because, if you feel like you’ve got somebody there that knows what they’re doing, then they’re more likely to come forward.”

If you or a loved one are a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, you’re encouraged to seek help. You can go to your local hospital or call Safe Homes-Rape Crisis Coalition at 864-583-9803.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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